By Nick Simonson
They say summer moves fast, and it’s true, but by far, fall goes by the quickest of all the seasons; especially for those of us of a hunting mindset, and specifically in this particular autumn we’re experiencing. It always feels as if the next three months will be subject to the wills of the weather and the winds of change, as autumn so often is hemmed in by the first strong snowfall. However, this fall, summer has spilled into the front half, making morning outings in the field with my lab short and limited by a quick rise in temperatures into the mid seventies by 11 am on many days. Add to that the upcoming pheasant opener and deer firearms season, and the seasonal markers along the trail are coming at us quickly, exacerbating the fleeting feel of fall.
While sitting on the deer stand Saturday night, sweating in the evening heat which once again topped 80 degrees, I mentally laid out my travel-filled calendar and highlighted the open weekends and the ones I’d be gone, and thought of when my next such sit would be possible. Let’s just say, it wasn’t looking good and started to make the lone mature doe that wandered up the draw the night before to within 10 yards of my perch look like an opportunity missed. Between the pheasant hunting opener and that season, which will now take precedence over any other outdoor activity until deer firearms starts, with work travels and a family vacation in the mix, my next opportunity on stand would likely be Halloween weekend. A scary thought, indeed; not that I didn’t relish the idea of a cooler time on stand where I’m not still swatting away mosquitoes, however.
But it’s not only concerning as to how fast the first month of the hunter’s fall will move, but then deer season will take over, and it seems the passing of time only picks up speed from there. Despite early mornings, shortened all day sits and after-dark drives back home from the field, and more than enough time to punch my tag, November’s start is gone in the blink of an eye as well as late fall sets in and time is measured in sunrises, sunsets and the movement of rut-driven deer down the draws and through the oak bottoms of the river valley. Then it’s Thanksgiving and the back half of pheasant season on into the final stretch of the holidays, and the older I get the less I feel I’m waiting for Christmas. Where the date seemed to crawl to me on the advent calendar with the little doors hiding tiny pieces of chocolate on the dining room wall, it now arrives with all the haste of Saint Nick’s magical flying reindeer, and the prizes for my unneeded patience are the roosters which pop up from time to time in the snow-rimmed cattail edges.
And like that, with perhaps a late season bird or two tucked into my vest on the final hunt of the season, the fall – at least the fall that makes up the hunting calendar – is over. It’s a sprint that puts summer’s speed to shame and makes the barbecues and bonfires at the lake look like the proverbial tortoise as the hare that is autumn bounds away from the warm remnants of the previous season and burrows deep into the banks of snow quickly brought on by winter. There’s nothing to do, but lace up your hunting boots, stretch out those legs, take a deep breath and get ready to run through it all, grabbing every day possible and making the most of it…in our outdoors.
Featured Photo: Filling In Quickly. A pair of young rooster pheasants get their final adult feathers ahead of the opener. Fall moves quickly after that point, and its major seasons and all of the opportunities have a lot to do with the seemingly fast pace of things. Simonson Photo